Auckland Transport have published the ridership numbers for October.

Here’s the AT table behind the data.

The good news is that overall we’re continuing to see good growth but that isn’t universal with some buses and some ferries both seeing declines compared to last year.

One of the first things I noticed was growth on the rail network of just 6.8% compared to the year before. I’ve been accustomed to seeing double digit growth and this stood out even more when compared to the busway at 15%. This is because the growth rates of both rail and the busway have been almost identical over recent months. It made me wonder what’s caused this sudden disparity, is rail growth finally slowing down or is there another explanation?

Looking deeper, one notable change compared to October last year is that school holidays ran deeper into October this year. Last year the school holidays had a week each in September and October. However this year both weeks fell in October. With many schools along the rail network, this is likely to have affected it more than it would the Busway. Even so, that’s still impressive growth on the busway.

It did get me thinking about rail growth though. We’ve seen huge growth over the last few years and it can’t go on for ever. So what numbers are we going to see on rail before the City Rail Link is opened, likely in 2023.

ATs predictions

As part of the business case for additional trains, AT says this:

the ‘best estimate’ growth – which assumes that the current 17% annual growth drops to 10% next year and then 8% each year until the CRL opens in 2023

Given the strong growth we’ve seen, this seems low at first, however, that growth is coming off a higher base. There were 19.6 million trips in the last financial year and with those growth rates, by 2023 we would reach 31.7 million trips. That seems quite high but would be impressive if we could reach that level. It might be a good target for AT to aim for, to ensure they keep pushing service and quality improvements and not just expect the CRL to solve things.

What do the number show us

One of the remarkable things about the growth we’ve seen is just how consistent it’s been. The number of trips being added annually has been hovering at around 2.8 million trips for some time. But because each new result is coming from a higher base, it means the percentage rate of growth is decreasing and doing so relatively consistently. This is shown in the graph below.

If we were to extrapolate that line forward until it reached zero, that would occur at about the end of 2021. Add in some small growth and by 2023 ridership would be around 26 million trips annually. To me that feels about right but I’d obviously be happy for it to be higher.

Of course we’ll have to wait and see just what happens and how strong growth continues to be. But there are a few things Auckland Transport could do to push along that growth. Also remembering that on top of this they’re buying more trains to give more capacity at peak times.

Further increasing rail use

Finish getting the New Network rolled out

The new network is partly about better integrating buses and trains into a single cohesive network. Once rolled out we’d expect to see more people transferring to trains for part of their journey. The South and West networks have already been rolled out. East Auckland is scheduled for 10 December while the Isthmus is not till July next year.

Implement the timetable proposed years ago

A few years ago Auckland Transport published the latest Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP). One of the functions of the RPTP is to set out just what services will exist on the network and their frequencies. The table below shows ATs plans for rail services with them being frequent all day and on weekends too. Frequent services are required to support the new bus network being rolled out as they are meant to integrate together.

This was meant to have been implemented by now but other than at peak, we remain a long way off these and the currently announced plans for a timetable next year don’t look like they will make much of a dent.

Discussions are continuing with Transdev and KiwiRail for the 2018 Train Timetable, to be introduced on 1 July 2018. The timetable specification includes operating Western & Southern Line services to Parnell Station throughout the day; Pukekohe Shuttle services operating on a 20-minute through the AM and PM peak, and 30 minutes at all other times.

Every time I’ve travelled off-peak or on a weekend, trains have been busy. Not standing in the isles busy but with a decent load of people. I suspect there’s quite a bit of latent demand that could be unlocked by improving frequency.

Speed up trains with better operations

Our new electric trains are a massive improvement over what we had before, but they can be horrifically slow at stations. AT need to address the door and associated operational issues to get these services sped up.

Off Peak Fares

The name kind of says it all, but it would be good if AT were to try and encourage spreading of peak demand by offering cheaper fares off peak

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  1. The bus network remains the workhorse here. Despite that AT drags its heels on actually implementing bus priority measures. I suspect a lot of growth could be achieved with simply rolling out more bus lanes, particularly across corridors that are already heavily congested. Places like Onewa rd or Dominion Rd show well that having unobstructed flow for buses helps to drive ridership and improves performance for a lot of people.

  2. I suspect that is another reason the busway is growing well the fact it is way more usable on the weekends, nights and generally off peak less hunt for great white commuter.

    I mean post New Network will likely just end up catching the bus home at nights because much more frequent and don’t end at early times.

    1. Absolutely. One member of my family was coming home from town to Pt Chev in the wee hours of a weekend morning recently and there were 24 people on the bus!

  3. Increased ridership is all well and good, but how about AT actually pay some attention to the needs of the travelling public? I catch the train at Sunnyvale, where the park ‘n’ ride is across a busy Seymour road from the station. Recently, they’ve done “rehabilitation” of Seymour road which has involved resealing and getting rid of a small traffic island on the railway overbridge and screwing up the light phasing on the intersection out of the car park.

    Access to this station is bad enough – there is no lift, good luck being disable and trying to get up the steep incline on the westbound side of the tracks and you have to cross a busy road to get to the carpark whilst on the platform shelter is hopelessly inadequate for a rainy part of a rainy city.

    But the removal of the traffic island and mucking around with the light phasing takes the biscuit. God knows how much ratepayer money went on the “rehabilitation” but the result, for pedestrians, is much worse. The island offered a small oasis for people crossing to the carpark from Westbound trains who miscalculated trafic, and by narrowing the road on the overbridge significantly slowed traffic. I guess the intention is to force people to cross at the light, but that bullshit social engineering of the worst kind. People won’t do what the design engineer orders, they’ll take the shortest route every time. So now people are taking risks on a really busy road with no island in the middle. Good one AT. As as for the light phases – I’ve sat in my car in a queue for three minutes waiting for a green light out of the carpark, in light traffic and turning right into the carpark traffic is now held up for minutes on a red arrow even at 5.30am with not another car insight. In my ten minute observation the other morning, right turning traffic into the carpark now just ignores the red arrow and turns anyway.

    Yet again, one is left with the feeling the people who design the environment around public transport don’t actually use it.

    1. Agree, anyone who designs a system to force pedestrians to the nearest lights clearly doesn’t walk much.

      For a major interchange Panmure is terrible to approach as a pedestrian. From the West there is an intersection with long waits between pedestrian phases, also if you don’t push the beg button at least a couple of seconds before your phase you miss out! From the east there is the roundabout and from the north Pilkington Rd is terrible to cross.

      1. Agree that Panmure is terrible as a pedestrian, it’s a complete island surrounded by roads.

        Few pedestrians wait for the lights so you have people dodging across the road, particularly from the west.

        Anyone who can’t just run across (ie kids, parents with buggies) spends a solid 5 mins waiting for the lights only to then get cars tooting at you because they have to wait while you cross.

        Don’t even get me started on cycle access!

        Would love to see better phasing or pedestrian right-of-way access from the west.

        1. Stations like Penrose and Otahuhu have long and difficult access. I rarely see older people at these stations. I support more escalators and underpasses. The underpasses at Ellerslie, Morningside. and GI are so easy to use.

    2. Silverdale station has a similar issue with traffic lights for cars turning right in to the station. There can be no other traffic around, and still it makes you wait 3-4 minutes.

  4. Yes if they want significant further growth the focus needs to be off-peak. Improve off-peak (frequency, pricing) and you’ll get a lot more people using it. You’ll even get further peak growth from them as some will mix peak and off-peak (although that goes both ways as more people might give off-peak a go rather than peak).

    Do need extra capacity during peak (more 6-car EMUs initially then convert them into 7-car EMUs to give a 20% boost in capacity.

    As has been pointed out by GA and others, speeding trains up (particularly dwell times) is crucial and will reduce operating costs and provide additional capacity, not to mention improved service from a faster journey.

    My big concern is that AT don’t seem to be doing much in terms of network resilience. Seems to be a few times every week you hear about big delays, cancellations, closures due to faults or incidents. Reliability of service is a big issue for PT users. Overseas they don’t muck about and put on rail replacement buses immediately (unless there is an alternative rail line handy). In Auckland PT users are left to fend for themselves. In the past it was ok as buses often duplicated what trains did but with the new network they won’t be. Rail users will be stuck if trains aren’t operating normally.

    1. Agreed. Rail replacement buses are a joke and the number of times train services are cancelled monthly is as a big a joke.

    2. Are there really cities that maintain a fleet of back-up buses to replace trains during peak hour?

      Looking at the new network I think it is possible to get near most stations using a bus, although it would be a long multi-trip journey for some further south and west. The bigger issue would likely be capacity on the buses.

      From my experience the rail network has been having a good run recently, even when there are issues it is usually a reduced timetable rather than a complete closure. That means at least you do get home even if there is a bit of a delay and cramped trains. I do live four stops from town though so I probably miss the delays further out.

      1. yeah i question the rail replacement buses comment too – spent 10 years in London and they would be put on when there was scheduled engineering works, never for unplanned delays or cancellations – you can’t just magic up extra buses, drivers etc on 15mins notice. What you can do of course is provide alternaitve options through local buses or other independent modes e.g. Light rail

  5. 1. EMU’s have now been around in some form for over 3 years. There have been a number of issues sorted but you are right, the platform dwell times and take off speeds are still abysmal. Part of that is AT optioned plug doors that are slow. They knew it but did it anyway. There is no easy fix to this but the new sets should go back to sliding doors.

    Secondly why oh why can the trailer car with the ramp access not have synchronised ramps and doors operation simultaneously and instantly. Why the watch paint drying wait time for them to come to life? This is software stuff and should have been fixed. And delete the 5 second wait to see if the world is still turning self checks the train does before any of the doors open. Again software adjustments, surely?

    Then there is the ETCS, that means trains coming into a platform on a red have to crawl up to a stop and when departing, crawl up to the now green or yellow signal at sub 15 km/hr speeds. Jesus Christ, it is stupid and frustratingly inefficient and AT must know it but do something to fix it…whatever! Sort it out for God sake!!!

    2. Good to see the patronage growth on Onehunga. Living proof that you build it properly and people will come.

    3. On that other hand the Parnell platform, still incomplete, disconnected, irregularly serviced by trains and utterly pointless. AT, bite the bullet, connect it as envisaged with bridges to Parnell and paths to the business park below or close it. This half arsed twilight zone station is hopeless otherwise and just holds up services!

    1. Agree, caught a train in Wellington and it was strange at first having the doors open as soon as the train stopped and the train start moving as soon as the last door closed!

      Not sure about plug doors though, I’d be surprised if they added any more than a second to the dwell time, there are many bigger components to the delay.

    2. Re: Point 3. Parnell Station looks like the last train station if there was a train station in a Mad Max movie. Access is limited, swapping directions is a long walk, nobody actually lives in the domain (officially at least) and if anyone is brave enough to venture with a wheelchair that far they will find access impossible. It is in the wrong place, so move it or bridge it out of nowhere to everywhere as you suggest.

      1. Yes we are still talking about dwell times! I have measured these on the Manukau line at 55 seconds.
        And last week came via Parnell -two people boarded -dwell time 55 seconds.
        I have entirely lost confidence in AT to provide a dynamic, efficient, growing public transport system, but I will say what I really think later in the thread.

    3. Isn’t a lot of the crawling in and out of stations a response to the dangers posed by/to cars and pedestrians crossing the tracks nearby? My recollection is that it used to be a lot quicker a few years ago.

      1. No, it’s the European Train Control System, (ETCS) that controls the trains speed as it approachs a red light. And yes, it was quicker with the diesels as they were less controlled.

        There were actually more red lights as standard on the Western line before the EMU’s came out but it was so farcical when the EMU’s were being trialled they had to reprogram some of the signals so a trip didn’t take 15 minutes longer.

        AT know all about this problem and how to address it, its just there is a lack of will to do anything about it!

        The incredible potential of the EMU’s has never been realised as a result.

  6. Good growth in the “frequent bus” category. Is that a new category. I wont how it will work as more services (hopefully) become frequent.

    1. Just to compare scale of distance, Kuala Lumpur to Singapore is almost identical to Auckland to Mt Ruapehu in 90 minutes.

      1. I suspect if Auckland had the population of Singapore and there was a city the size of KL at Ruapehu then we would have a train running between the two that took 90 mins as well.

        1. No we wouldn’t, even with similar population/city sizes it will take at least a hundred years…. haha

        2. I’d love to know what your basing that on. I’m sure the proposed line between KL and Singapore have gone through many years of planning. You could argue it should have been built years ago given these have been large cities for a long time.

        3. The real question is how that 400km line can be built in a timeframe not much longer than a 3.5km tunnel in the Auckland CBD.

          And BTW, no one can see how that HSR line adds up, economically.

  7. The new improve heavy rail be at 180% over 80 years and yes its quite amazing how it looks and it runs on time every time and it does 180kph and do more then 280 trips with in 5 min all stops and never derail and with out been out of service and never break down

  8. Question someone may know the answer to: Is there a “double decker” effect on routes like the 274/7, 500 and 18? From casual observation the new 18 had abysmal loads initially when single deckers operated and these have improved slightly with DD operation. However the route changes (terminating at New Lynn, probably losing some “beyond” passengers to the train), the increased service between the city and Pt Chev (132/3/4 and 195 in particular) and increased frequency (now to 12 min off peak, 6 min peak) on top of the increased bus capacity make this a hard row to hoe. But the 274/7 and 500 (and possibly the 881 and 973/4) may be a better guide to any such effect.

  9. It is ridiculous the new bus network encourage to transfer to rail. However the off peak train service frequency is so low that makes transfer a long wait and discouraging. That serious needs to be fixed asap.

    Agreed with the other aspect such as improvement in dwell time and journey time. They are overdue. The new labour government should take opportunity to shake up those statues of quo train management.

  10. The off=peak train frequencies have actually gotten worse since they implemented the 10 minute peak timetable. Now instead of a 15 minute frequency we are getting a 20 minute frequency. Why do we have to put up with a decrease in service during the day and on weekends? Surely we want to encourage users at all running times, I really don’t know what AT were thinking here.

    1. The frequency only declined from 15 to 20 min for a small “shoulder” period IIRC – disappointing as that was.

  11. AT will need to employ staff with white gloves to cram more people on at rush hour, Japanese style. My morning Eastern Line service could take no more passengers after Meadowbank. Some of those at Orakei took one look and decided to wait for the next train.

      1. Perhaps, but yesterday the same issue was raised about the services through New Lynn. From Bogle:

        “Btw that New Lynn underground station wl soon need jap type train stuffers and a limited stops to cbd or exprss rush hour train”

  12. We all say the same stuff each month don’t we:

    1: Great to see growth
    2: Bus priority (Bus lanes etc) should be implemented asap.
    3: Train dwell times

    Real life example –
    33 bus from Manukau to Papakura off-peak AT’s journey planner say it takes 40 mins to cover just over 11km.

    Peak times 57mins to cover the same distance.

    11km per hour average speed during peak times on great south road? That is shocking AT!

    1. I think it is the great south road problem during peak. I had to start early last week at admore. It took me more than 40 minutes to drive from admore to manurewa during the morning peak. It was gridlock around takanini or any roads to the motorway.

  13. The monthly and annual graphs have the same percentages on them, which looks to me to be an error. I thing that the monthly increase in Rail was 6.8%, but the figure for for the annual increase is roughly double that, looking at the bars. 12 ish percent isn’t too much of an anomaly for annual increase

  14. We should see big pick up particularly on some train stations with the new central bus network, especially Glen Innes, Penrose & Sylvia Park (last two ones I’ll be using of course they pretty low starting base).

    Eastern NN would kicking in will be interesting to see Panmure change & be interesting how many transfer to a city bound bus (coming from Howick say) as apposed to taking the train.

    Are we able to get figures that differentiate between child/students and normal adult tickets/rides? This would be interesting as child & students very up and down with holidays etc.

    Another thing that stood out to me is the 12 month rolling average & YTD from July shows high 27.5% & 18% respectively for Pukekohe even with all changes going on there.

  15. Does anyone know if there a train driver and train staff shortage in general holding back more frequent inter peak/off peak services or is it just the fare recovery money pinching thing that is the issue? Also how frequent can we get the Onehunga line going in theory without any track/signal upgrades or additional trains etc? – I’m thinking faster than 20min is almost impractical yet this looks like it’s has to cover for the current 008 & 009 buses in the New Network (so until post CRL/more trains it will suck having a 30min frequency). If they could do 20mins by having enough trains available outside of peak hours (which is kind of backwards I know) it would be great.

    1. Onehunga is limited by the number of slots at Britomart at the moment. With that limitation removed it could go to 20 mins with the single track.

      1. if its a Britomart problem, why cant some Oneunga train terminate at Newmarket to allow for more frequency on the line. Newmarket is frequent enough that transfer wont be too much of a wait.

    2. I’ve heard through the grapevine that the New Network is under real financial pressure, and that staying within the available funding is contributing to the frequency cuts on some of the crosstown routes. I assume that the same logic is impacting the decision to add off-peak rail frequency. And here was I believing the fable that the New Network was going to be able to be delivered within the same amount of subsidy that had previously been available. So naive . . . !

  16. Also still cant get home on the train if finishing work or an activity in the city after 10PM Sun-Thu. Even Wellington services run till at least 11PM on Weekdays…

    So they completely miss out on this patronage as most people would drive in, in the afternoon as they need to drive back… There are probably thousands of Hospitality, I.T. and Call Center workers that probably fit in this category. Plus of cause the general people who are just spending an evening in town.

    Many of the buses from the city run until 12am or even 12:30am one route (Sandringham Rd from memory) during the weekdays. When is rail going to catch up?

    1. Yes surprisingly found current eastern service that runs to Eastern Beach or Bucklands Beach goes through Panmure 1/2 hourly weekdays right up to 12:25am!

  17. Dwell times, dwell times, dwell times AT. I don’t care how you do it, with or without TMs, but please reduce them. That often long period of time waiting for the ‘beep beep’ infurates me. That ain’t no road runner.

  18. Here’s what the Auckland plan says. “It also includes a transformational shift to double the number
    of public transport trips from 70 million per year in 2012 to 140 million in 2022”

    This is absolutely delusional! By no stretch of anyone’s imagination is this transformational change. It represents less than a 10% increase every year. (I guess that is a marked change from the currently poor growth rate of around 5% per year).

    The really sad thing is that this target could be achieved by none of the existing Auckland population making any change whatsoever. With Auckland’s population growing by over 30,000 per year due to immigration, it would take 25,000 of these people travelling to work each day by bus or train (25,000 x 200 days x 2 trips per day) to achieve the required patronage growth.

    Alternatively, if we assume that all of the 90 million annual trips are made by commuters to work or school then we have about 250,000 daily commuters. If all of this number were to make just 20 weekend trips each then the growth target would be achieved. It’s probably a huge change, but by no way transformational.

    Vienna, the city often rated the world’s most livable has over 950 million public trips per annum and a target of less than 20% of trips by motor vehicle each year. (Maybe they recognize the plight of Kapiti -yes not Kuribati – that will drop into the sea due to erosion caused by global warming).

    I also wonder how many of the current increase of about 4.5 million per year have been bought. The huge cost of developing the park n ride at Silverdale, Albany and Manukau must have contributed well over one million of that 4.5 million.

    Auckland’s very modest targets for public transport usage will unlikely assist in any way to reduce greenhouse emissions. It doesn’t seem that they will help to ease congestion. This view is supported by the AT budget which shows that we continue to spend way more on roads than on any other mode of transport. Surely that wouldn’t occur if it wasn’t needed?

    The authors of Greater Auckland have developed great plans to show the way to move around Auckland e.g. CFN1 AND CFN2. Respectfully I suggest now is the time to develop the “how” of moving people to use those networks, recognising many of those are yet to come.

    Many will feel challenged and even attacked as they are asked to surrender using their car constantly. However, the increasing impacts of climate change will cause us all to be a part of the solution. Let’s have an aspirational target of say 225 million public transport trips by 2022 and urgently embark on a discussion on how we can achieve it.

    1. While 225m pax per year by 2022 would be truly transformational, that represents 20% pa growth across the entire network for the next five years. I’m not sure there is a realistic chance of the necessary infrastructure being able to be constructed that quickly given the financial and temporal constraints on Auckland. I’m picking that would require several more light rail lines as well as a fully operational CRL to be remotely possible. But you’re correct that we should have much more ambitious targets. At the current growth rate (7.7%) we might hit just 130 m by 2022.

  19. unless (1) you’re just going to increase overall subsidies for PT (which is a slightly different question) and/or (2) fare elasticities are greater than -1.0, then lower off-peak fares necessitates higher peak fares.

    The same applies to monthly passes.

    I think it’s important this trade-off is highlighted whenever people mention “cheaper fares”; you’re effectively calling for some other fares to be higher.

    In this case, I agree that higher peak fares and lower off-peak fares would be desirable. The question is how do you implement it? My suggestion would be to create an annual off-peak discount that can be loaded on AT HOP cards for, say, $100 p.a, which would entitle the user to, say, a 50% discount on off-peak fares.

    1. I call for higher subsidies and for the lower off peak fares to not have to be balanced by higher peak fares. Indeed I hope the pressure to do so will mount, as international calls to lower our emissions will necessitate moves like these. 🙂

      Encouraging new users has to be part of this decision. Lower off-peak fares could be a real winner in encouraging new users, but not if they have to get an AT HOP card AND have to pay $100 to be entitled to the lower fares. I don’t like that idea (but keep coming with more ideas – and Taka-ite has some goodies).

      I think having drivers able to sell AT HOP cards during off peak periods would be good, and having the first trip free might be good too, and speed up the transaction. (Kind of a no-brainer to me: if you could buy a card for $5, including your fare, and need to decide between doing so or paying the huge cash fare, who wouldn’t go with getting the card? Bingo – one more HOP card user, whose also had a good experience on PT, in which they think they’ve scored a bargain. Win-win.)

  20. Stuart, I believe the answers lie in whether Auckland Council truly want to transform how we travel around the city. The current model is essentially more of the same. I am certain that at around 7% annual growth of public transport trips the number of motor vehicle trips is increasing and with AT’S lower expectations of public transport growth that will be continue to be so. A consequence will be more congestion; demand for more resources for roading to reduce that congestion; more greenhouse emissions; particulate emissions causing health problems etc.
    If the city is serious about transformation why does AT provide rock bottom car park prices in the city on the weekends – $2 per hour? There is a clear message here. AT is encouraging you to drive. And it is a similar situation in suburban centres where parking is free on Sundays. If AT charged parking at commercial rates there are tens of millions of dollars that could be garnered for road projects. And possibly there is car park space that could be sold for much needed housing development e.g. the gasometer site in Takapuna
    Yes I am saying that the amount spent on public transport should increase. AT’s capital spending budget this year is $764 million with $459 million on roads (60%). Nothing changes. Well actually slightly up on last year. What if this spending was reversed initially with only 40% spent on roading? I realise that capital expenditure is not the subsidies budget, but the chairs on the Titanic could be re-jigged.
    Higher fares at any time are not the answer to build patronage and so if off peak fares are to be reduced then let’s find that money from somewhere else.
    Queenstown, that bastion of all that is great about capitalism, have introduced $2 fares with a zone that seems to encompass much of Central Otago. Parking charges have been raised considerably. And this is by a mayor who has an admirable commercial background. He says it is to fix the problems that Queenstown has with traffic congestion.
    Auckland could trial weekend adult fares at $2 for a day pass (kids fares already have a half day pass for 99c). Maybe for families that might make their preferred way to visit the city public transport, assuming $2 parking is eliminated. Could we dare to dream that some city streets might be closed for traffic on Sunday to turn them into bike ways just as happens in Sao Paulo. (Probably just too fanciful given that it works in Sao Paulo because is has 18 million people and they are able to close part of one of the main streets -Paulista Avenue).
    For me AT’s approach to traffic congestion is like the country’s approach to waterway pollution – it’s a problem and we must get around to fixing it; and we are getting around to fixing it; although it might not seem that we are; but it can’t happen straight away; and surely you must be appreciative of what we have done so far; and in AT’s case we have all sorts of meaningless targets that ignore the big picture.
    If we as citizen’s believe that there is a better way to move around the city let’s tell our elected representatives that more of the same doesn’t work for us.

    1. Yes to all this. Money needs to be put where it’ll improve people’s access to the city, and that is in PT and active modes. But beyond money, there are also the really cheap innovative experiments that AT could be doing.

      Members of the community are putting in lots of work to ask for necessary changes to dangerous and car-dominated areas, without much response from AT. Victoria Quadrant being a great example. Another example: the calls to improve the phasing on the pedestrian crossing at Pt Chev might finally be getting somewhere – but that is after at least 2 decades of community requests!

      AT have a stated intention to use tactical urbanism. There are two types of tactical urbanism – official, and unofficial. We’ve been waiting for the official version but if it doesn’t appear soon, one would have to assume AT intends the community to take the lead with the unofficial version.

      1. I don’t disagree with your objectives, and respect your desire to spend more on PT, but I think you may have missed my point.

        That is, in the presence of (1) a budget constraint (however high/low) and (2) inelastic demand, then whenever we talk about lowering *some* fares, we are implicitly arguing for other fares to be higher. I want that trade-off to be made clear when talking about fares.

        In my view, AT should offer:
        — An automatic weekly pass of 9 journeys + 50% discount thereafter; and
        — An annual subscription 50% off-peak pass, which costs ~$100 p.a.
        — Children travel free on weekends with HOP

        That means that an adult who makes at least 9 journeys during the week, and who also subscribes to the off-peak discount, will pay only 25% of the full journey fare on weekends. And they can travel with children for zero marginal cost.

        The first and third ideas are drawn from Brisbane, which implemented such changes recently. The middle idea is drawn from NS in the Netherlands.

        1. And Stuart your idea might well be a great start. And it may be all that Auckland wants to achieve. I have struggled to find mode share figures for Brisbane, but the latest figures I found showed public transport ridership around 14%. Compare this with Vienna where the number of public transport trips is 39%. Worlds apart! Admittedly Vienna is reputed to have either the best or second best public transport in Europe.

          Vienna is characterised by having a yearly pass for only $630 (or about $1.80 per day) with monthly, weekly and daily travel more expensive. The number of yearly passes purchased now exceeds the number of registered motor vehicles in the city. Despite such wonderful patronage capital expenditure is $400 million per year.

 which suggests car usage to only be at 27%.

          I completely get your point about budget constraints and that’s why I make some suggestions: for AT to price parking at market rates to raise expenditure; to move expenditure from road to public transport; use the new petrol tax only for roading projects (and if people say it isn’t enough then raise it); and I would also add that if people want cheap fares then they should expect to pay for park n ride.

          All of this may not be enough and so I get your point that AT may have to go to central government to relax farebox recovery.

          What really frustrates me is that AT seems to think that with public transport boardings increasing at greater than the population growth they have the answer. Mathematically of course that’s just horseshit. It assumes, no it doesn’t matter what it assumes its just wrong. As an example if everyone of the 43,000 people who registered another vehicle in 2016 drove it to work every day that’s another 17.2 million private car trips per year. Compare public transport boardings increasing at about 6 miilion per year. Result – more congestion.

          [Average UPT growth was particularly strong between 2005 and
          2009, with total patronage (summed across all 8 capitals) increasing by about 4.7 per cent per annum; while growth over the last few years has been more muted, averaging around 1.3 per cent per annum between 2009 and 2013.

          What does it matter -don’t waste our time!]

          And how do we rate internationally?

          Well we don’t!

        2. I don’t know what you’re even arguing for/about?

          Nobody said anything about settling!

          And i wouldn’t necessarily assume european cities are a good model for nz fare systems given differences in urban form. That is our cities are more monocentric and have peakier demands.

  21. Stu, you may well be right that the European model may not work here. The Easy Jet model has in some form been adopted here with grab a seat and it seems to work. Trains and buses, who knows? But I have a strong suspicion that to be able to travel buses and trains for $1.80 per day may be very attractive. Will people travel from say New Lynn to Glenn Innes for that price; is it attractive to travel from Newmarket to the beach at Takapuna for the same price? Who knows? All I do know is that in Vienna the number of yearly pass holders has grown by over 4% from a base of 700k. Compare the number of Hop Card holders at 1 million.

    What I am arguing for is AT to do something different to what they are doing presently. 7% growth off such a low base is appalling. Yes they are constrained by funds, but much of that is within their ability to control.
    And let’s have a conversation about how to move forward. I think that the end point should be the Viennese system because I have spoken to a number from that city who embrace it totally – and Vienna is not dissimilar in size to Auckland.

    I was suggesting that AT (or the wider population) might want to settle for the Brisbane model. For many that model will suit them just fine. I believe that you are saying that this is not an end point for you and I am in agreement with that.

    1. One reason a completely different fare structure is necessary is because so many things are interconnected. Public and social health, work, education and cultural opportunities, and so on are intricately linked with transport (as you all know). And even within transport, it’s complicated. I can see that people coming from further out *should* be paying more to use PT to get to town than people half-way along the route. But the current fares mean people are driving half the way and then using Hide and Ride. (Sure I know it’s also about getting to a route with more frequency, but at my street party in the weekend we discussed it and everyone seemed to know people who hide and ride to lower their fares).

      In other words, we’re all in this together and a mindset of user pays type fare structures (even with so-called subsidies) is counterproductive. Like you Taka-ite, I’m keen on looking at it all with more aspiration. Maybe Auckland can lead the world in what a sprawling city can transform itself into?

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